In addition to her television credits, Debbie has published short stories in the Dark Delicacies, Dark Passions: Hot Blodd 13 and Summerchills anthologies. Her stories can also be found in Shimmer and the forthcoming Dark Distortions anthology.
She is currently writing audio dramas for Dark Shadows.
Debbie is a graduate of Clarion West and has an MFA in creative writing from the University of Southern Maine, Stonecoast. Visit her website at dlynnsmith.com.
Her story “The Girl Who Lost Her Way” appears in the Spring 2008 issue of Shimmer.
Interview with D. Lynn Smith
Where did the idea come from? I was driving from New Mexico to Los Angeles, and stopped for the night in Prescott, Arizona. The next day I drove the back way down to I 10. The landscape was pretty unremarkable at one stage, until I drove up a small rise and through a gateway made of two boulders. I descended into a great Saguaro forest. The beauty took my breath away, as did the energy shift that indicated I was entering sacred land. As I drove in awe of the beauty surrounding me, the story came to me in full. I believe that the Saguaro gifted me with this story.
How did the story change as you developed it? When I got to LA, I sat down and wrote the story. It was just the bare bones. I realized that I needed to find out how to write fairy/folklore tales. So I e-mailed a fellow Clarion West Grad, Darja Malcolm-Clarke, who has a PhD in such things, and she steered me to Max Luthi’s ONCE UPON A TIME: THE NATURE OF FAIRY TALES. I did a first draft of the story based on his definitions and breakdowns of a fairy tale. But that wasn’t enough. There was still something missing. So I went to Kelly Link’s story CATSKIN in her collection MAGIC FOR BEGINNERS. While reading this incredibly strange story, I realize that my story was missing that strangeness, that sense of magic that is just natural to the world of the story. This realization gave me the final piece that made THE GIRL WHO LOST HER WAY work.
You know the advice “Sometimes you have to kill your darlings.” Was there a scene or line that it really hurt to cut, but cutting it made the story stronger? I didn’t experience that with this story. Many people have told me that I need to change to ending. But hey, if you’re gifted a story by the Saguaro, I don’t think you should go missing with their ending. [Ed: We loved the ending! I’m glad you didn’t change it.]
How is this story like your other work? How is it different? This story is very different from my other work. While I have dabbled in urban fantasy, I’ve never written a fairy tale. Actually Kelly Link says it’s more of a folktale. Whatever it is, I’ve never written anything like it before. I guess the fact that it has a dark ending is like my other work.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer? I’ve been writing since I was 8-years-old, but I didn’t really pursue it until I hit 30.
Who do you write for? Yourself or someone else? Good question. I write my prose for myself. I have to otherwise what’s the point. But when I’m invited into an anthology, I’m also writing for that particular editor. For example, Stephen Jones had very specific guidelines for his SUMMER CHILLS anthology. Now I know that Steve doesn’t really care for graphic horror. He likes subtle, terrifying stories. So I wrote to his sensibility. However, the story THE CHARNEL HOUSE, was a lot of fun to write because it was based on my experience in Egypt, and on a mythology that fascinates me. I can’t write for an anthology unless I’m interested in the subject matter.
In television writing, however, I’m writing for someone else. Sometimes I don’t like what they’re making me do, sometimes I do. I wrote my own story ideas, which was great, but I had to do them according to our Executive Producer’s asthetics, not my own. So why do it? $$$$$
Favorite book read when you were a child? THE SHY STEGOSAURUS OF CRICKET CREEK, by Evelyn Sibley Lampman and Hubert Buel.
Do you believe in ghosts or the supernatural? Yes, because I’ve lived with 2. One was a ghost cat who like to freak out my guests and my cats. One was a woman who liked Carol King and who used to stand over my bed and wake me up when I was having nightmares.
Watch much TV? What’s good these days? MAD MEN. The best show on television right now. Except for SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE. I live for that show.
Do you check your horoscope? No. Well, if a person has a paper and is reading their horoscope, I’ll read mine.
Quiz: How many writers does it take to change a lightbulb? I like an answer I already ready read by another writer – the one where he says none – we all work in the dark. I think that was best answer and I challenge anyone to beat it.